Suggestions for improving regulations governing workplace harassment and violence

  • July 02, 2019

Does there have to be a formal complaint to trigger an investigation of workplace violence or harassment?

The CBA’s Women Lawyers Forum and Labour and Employment Section don’t think so. In the Sections’ submission last October on the proposed regulatory framework for Bill C-65, Workplace Violence and Harassment, they said an employer should have an obligation to investigate and address those situations. They repeated that recommendation in their June submission on the proposed regulations.

“The proposed regulations do not appear to include any mechanism for an employer to investigate an occurrence of harassment or violence on its own initiative. It seems that all actions flow from the notification of an occurrence under s.15,” the Sections note. “We appreciate the additional mechanisms of notification that remove barriers to reporting by bystanders. But the proposed regulations should also clarify that an employer can initiate an investigation on its own initiative when it is aware of facts that could give rise to a notification.”

Overall, the Sections support the proposed regulatory approach, and say they’re pleased to see that some of their previous recommendations are adopted, including allowing notifications to be made anonymously.

Along with adding a mechanism to allow employers to initiate investigations, the Sections recommend a few other amendments, including adding definitions of workplace harassment, sexual harassment and violence to the regulations, as well as defining what is meant by “early resolution.” “While there is a total 180-day time allocation for early resolution and conciliation, there is no indication of how long the early resolution step can take of that 180 days,” the Sections note.

As well, while they appreciate the desire for a speedy resolution, the Sections say the six-month timeline to resolve a complaint may not be feasible in some cases, and say the parties should be allowed to agree to extend that timeline.

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